A coach once told me that no team, no coach, and no number of family members can determine how good I could be. He told me "you will only ever be as good as you want to be". Sure anyone can want to be successful, but do you want it enough to work for it. These words have been pasted on the inside of my brain.
If I wanted something I had to make it happen. I had to be responsible for where I wanted to go and how I got there. Of course I had support from coaches and family, but I was the only one who could really make it happen. Ever since I had heard this from a coach I worked harder and put everything I could into the goals I had.
At times, it was not easy. I was sore, tired, ready to stop and give myself some rest, but I knew that if I wanted to reach my goals, I had to keep going. Over the next couple years I played for 3 different water polo teams at the same time that were all in varying levels of difficulty. I played for my high school team, the northeast national team and a junior Olympic team. My goals were to go to the junior Olympics, not just one time but 3 times and also to start for the northeast national team. To get there I had to keep reminding myself that "I will only be as good as I want to be".
Not only did I reach my goals, but we placed 2nd at the national tournament and we did very well in our bracket at junior Olympics. I had earned the respect of my coaches and my teammates. Many of these teammates I continued to play against once we all got to college and were playing for various college teams.
Still to this day I follow what my coach told me, "you will only ever be as good as you want to be".
As we get older we realize that it isn't how many friends that you have it is the quality of friends you have. Also, as you get older it is easier to spot the people in your life that are only meant to be there for a short period of time. People are either lessons or blessings.
I recently have dropped a couple people in my life. I was always there when they needed me, but they were never there when I needed them. This created stress in my life that I just didn't need. It felt like I was walking on egg shells when we would talk. Like what I had to say didn't matter or what I wanted to do wasn't worth doing. Why would I want to be friends with someone who doesn't take my thoughts and opinions into account? I don't. I don't need that. I quit.
After removing them from my life, I have been more comfortable just living as myself and also more outgoing. It is now that I fully realize the amount of stress having toxic people in my life created. When it comes to friends you will most likely have more lessons than blessings, but as long as you learn from it, those lessons will only amplify the blessings in your life.
Yearning for Spring
As the vernal moon approaches
I can hear the birds,
Feel the breeze on my skin.
The sun shines a comforting
The crocus stretching their
deep colored petals
Towards the sun
yearning for the ides of March
People break free of the confines
of the constricting coats
begging the dirty,
ash colored snow to melt.
The grass slogging to be free
of the cold white blanket
to play patty cake
with the sunlight again.
I can hear the birds,
Feel the breeze.
Yes, I can feel spring is on the way.
Once a upon a time is such a cliché way to start a store, but here we are. Once upon a time there was a girl who believed she was doing all the right things, but if she was, how did she end up with a telegraph in one hand and blood on the other in an empty house, alone?
Religion is a awkward subject for me. I went to church when I was younger, but never really felt comfortable talking about faith. My parents and I went to church every Sunday until I was 9 years old. After that, I started playing sports and I had to be at certain places early Sunday mornings. Since then, we haven't gone back. This is not because we didn't feel welcome or didn't have the time, we just didn't go back. My parents and I haven't talked about religion other than in the political sense since I was about 12.
It wasn't until I was 13 or 14 I no longer felt welcomed by any church. Many people like me are ran out of churches because we love differently. Or we are told loving who we love is a "sin" and we are going to hell. But everyone sins, no matter what kind it is, that's just human nature. When people ask me if I believe in God, I say no, because what "higher power" would create a world with so much destruction around religion when many religious texts preach the same things just using a different language. What "higher power" would tell you hate me just because I am different? What about "love thy neighbor"? Do these not apply to someone like me? Many people in the LGBTQIA community no longer feel welcome in churches. Many have given up religion all together regardless of what they believe. Doesn't seem right to me.
Everyone is affected by death. Everyone deals with death in their own way. Death surrounds us, but it doesn't have to be a bad thing. Everything on Earth has a purpose and everything eventually dies. For example, for humans as well as other animals, plants die so that we can survive. Trees die to build homes for us. Without these things, the human race would struggle and die. If the human race were to die out, we would become fertilizer for the Earth, which in turn would feed the plants and trees and other animals so that they can live on. Death is a part of life and it completes the circle. Every species relies on the life and death of other species. Matter cannot be created or destroyed, it can only change.
In your everyday, normal life you don't think about how much your hands touch and are a part of how you perceive the world. When you are with someone that you love, your hands are usually the first thing that your partner touches. This may be in the form of holding hands or even just a slight touch on your shoulder. Now think about how much that little touch means. You are allowing that person to come into your space and to share the sensation of touch. Can you remember what it felt like the first time your partner held you? One of the most intimate thing a couple can do is hold each other. It allows you to be vulnerable, like you can communicate without words. There is a reason why people like being held, hold hands, or even just a simple hand on the back or hip. As humans, we crave touch, and that touch starts with just the tip of a finger.
It’s okay to not be okay.
You know when someone asks you if you are okay, when you are so obviously not? My depressive symptoms started in early high school. I didn't feel like everyone else and I didn't really fit in. I was larger than most of my peers and I was questioning my sexuality.
On the outside, I had everything I needed and wanted. I was a great student, I excelled in sports and I had a good group of friends. That's what I was told to believe. "You have all of this, you should be happy". So I shoved my emotions and thoughts down into a little box at the back of my brain.
Things were good for a while, but I can remember this one day in the locker room after practice about a year later I was shoved into a locker by my "friend". Jokes were being made, but they weren't funny to me anymore, and hadn't been for a while. It's like they couldn't see I wasn't laughing. That day, that little box in the back of my brain felt like it burst open. All of those thoughts and feelings came flooding back. Did I tell anyone? Of course not. I was taught that since I had friends, did well in school and was doing well in sports, I should be happy. "You're too young to be so sad".
My world got smaller, and I started struggling in a couple classes. I lied about grades I would get on tests to keep my parents happy and I lied and said I was going to a friends house when I drove myself to a park to cry in the parking lot alone. Being with people was hard because they would be talking about boys, but I had no interest. I was more interested in my friends than any guys at school. No one was "out" then, especially if you were an athlete.
However, it wasn't until college that things really took a turn. My sophomore and junior year I spent most of my time at home alone. I was planning on taking my life. I was upset, it was winter time and I was sitting by a tree by a bridge when someone walked by. They didn't interact with me but a few moments later the campus police came rolling up in their car. I was dragged into the car and stayed in the hospital that night. The next day I was escorted to therapy. It was terrifying, but the best thing that happened to me. I started talking and my feelings were validated and listened to. I felt heard for the first time. I started making improvements and started opening up to the people around me after while. Medication helped me cope with day to day interactions and challenges.
Since then I've had my ups and downs as everyone does. The stranger who called the campus police is now one of my best friends and I can't thank her enough.
Peaks vs Valleys
Anyone who is involved with my life knows that I'm gay. I'm proud of it. It took me years to discover who I was, and even longer to accept it. This is not uncommon for anyone that is a part of the LGBTQIA community. However, what people don't know is how it affected my mental health and my well being. I have talked a bit about this in therapy over the years but not in excess. I believe that most people don't wake up and say, "I hope I'm different that my peers, family and friends". Everyone wants to fit in. I had been out to myself since I was 14 but it took until I was 22 to start telling anyone. This was extremely detrimental to my health. I turned to drugs and alcohol to silence that part of me and it ended up leading me down the road to an attempt on my life.
I fondly look back on this part of my life because it allows me to see where I have come from. Sometimes hitting your personal rock bottom is a good thing. See it as a blessing because once you do, you'll know you can only go up.
Life is a series of peaks and valleys, and some valleys may be lower than others. Enjoy your peaks, but more importantly, learn from your valleys because you may never know who you can become without them.
Put your heart on the line
Can you feel the flutter?
The expectation of what needs to be done
on one cold short day
Am I a winner because I am taken?
Or do I miss the taste of freedom
that singularity brings
I am expected to wear a shade of lips
that mirror a cherry in the heat
of the summer.
And a dress that matches the
shadowed color of red
All this, just one short day
Show love in other ways
That way on a cold day in February
You too feel the freedom,
Free of expectation.